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The Projectionist

Look at them, all sitting there before me. Sitting in their darkness.

It’s as if I am their god.

If I will it; life springs forth before them.

If I dictate it; they are hot or they are cold.

If I say let there be light;  there is light.

I am in control of their lives. I created this world for them and now they dwell in it.

The darkness is broken by the life before them.

I am their god up here, looking down upon them.

I have done the work of six days and now I rest. I rest and I watch.

Look at them there, sitting in their broken darkness. Not even aware that I’m here, watching them watch the pictures dance before them.

Sometimes I speak to them but they never speak back. They never hear me. They never can.

Look at them.

I watch them all; the families, the friends, the lovers, the daters.

I’ve seen it all. I see it all. I always do.

I see the popcorn thrown around them, the little legs kicking the seats in front, the mobile phones. I see it all.

The first-daters, they’re my favourite. I watch them the most. So much excitement, so much hope. I can feel their awkwardness from here; the rapid glances, the apologetic  touches, and heaven-forbid the classic arm over the shoulder.

That still makes me smile.

Like these two here. Look at them. Clearly first daters - both so rigid against the backdrop of light. I can feel the nerves from here.

Must be a blind date, she’s definitely out of his league. And she’s knows it. That’s why she’s sitting there with her coat still on. The not so subtle phone check every so often. I’ve seen it all before.

Let’s see if we can help the poor fella. All we need is to turn up the heat a little and wait. I am in control.

Creating little miracles from up here. And I watch.

I am their god.

In my earlier days I used to wonder what they thought of me. How did they picture me? What was I like in their minds? Was I perhaps a handsome stranger hiding in the shadows or a deformed being lurking there? A hunchback of the projection room? A Phantom of the cinema?

I used to wonder what they thought of me. But I don’t any more. Because I realised they seldom do. They seldom do, if ever.

I am their god.

No one thanks me, no one thinks of me, no one cares. The pictures just appear before them, as if by magic. Doesn’t matter how they appear, just so long as the do appear. Don’t question, don’t think, just watch.

Oh, look, the first-dater is taking off her coat. Another miracle.  My miracle.

He’s trying not to let her see his stolen glances.

But I see them. I see everything from my heaven.

And I know in his heart he will hope that that’s a sign. Hope springs eternal. I suppose it is a sign. A sign from god, his new god.

His heart will be pounding. His mouth will be dry. There he goes for a sip of his drink. I’ve seen it all before.

Strange film for him to choose. This is a thriller. Rookie mistake, rom-coms are best, gives the girl that hope that she might find love. Not real love. No, not real love but “movie-love”.

But to be honest, I don’t know if that exists outside of this world I bring to life. Certainly isn’t long lasting.

That’s not the love that keeps these families together. That’s real love. You don’t see that sort of love on screen. Not real love. It’s much too hard to portray. It’s built from humble foundations, slowly laid brick by brick and is cemented through every trial and tribulation they suffer. As solid as this cinema. Wind and rain can batter it but inside its warm and comfortable. Not like “movie-love”.

“Movie-love” is as fragile as the strip of film it’s printed on. It burns away if exposed to the light for longer than a moment.

Ah I’m getting philosophical.

Look at them all before me, my children.

I am their god.

Oh no, don’t do that. Don’t.

He’s going for the arm across the shoulder. You hate to see it.

Ah bless him, he’s nervous. And his hand is floating a good three inches above her shoulder. And shaking too. I don’t think she’s even realised what he’s done.

Need to be assertive, they love confidence. Not too much though.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. And arrogance in the darkness of my theatre will bury any chance of romance. I’ve seen it all before. I’m getting philosophical again.

He’ll lower his arm though. He’ll tire. And then we’ll see. But I’m not hopeful. I never am.

Mind you there’s not long left to go.

Down, my son, down. Gentle. Slow. There we go.

Oh, she liked it, she’s leaning in to it. That’s a surprise.

Miracles do happen.

Look at them all, all before me.

And roll credits - lights up in three, two, one.

Let there’s be light. And there is.

Time to clean that popcorn. They leave such a mess. I am not their mother.

Might find a bit of loose change. Best I can hope for I suppose.

I wonder if the daters will make it. Might see them back in a few weeks. Doubtful though. Very few come back. Very few make it. I blame “movie-love”.

Will have to say hello to the few that sit on to the end. There’s always a few. Expecting one last secret clip. The fools. Why can’t they just leave me in peace? The world I created for them is over. The darkness has been replaced by the light. It’s time to go home. Back to their world.

They don’t say hello back.

They never say thanks.

They never think of me.

I am their god

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